Zimmerman cleared in shooting of Trayvon Martin

Neighborhood watch volunteer could have been convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter
Associated Press
Jul 14, 2013

Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was cleared of all charges Saturday in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager whose killing unleashed furious debate across the U.S. over racial profiling, self-defense and equal justice.

Zimmerman, 29, blinked and barely smiled when the verdict was announced. He could have been convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter. But the jury of six women, all but one of them white, reached a verdict of not guilty after deliberating well into the night. Their names have not been made public, and they declined to speak to the media.

Martin's mother and father were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read; supporters of his family who had gathered outside yelled "No! No!" upon learning of the not guilty verdict.

The teen's father, Tracy, reacted on Twitter: "Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY."

His mother also said on Twitter that she appreciated the prayers from supporters.

"Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have," she wrote.

The jurors considered nearly three weeks of often wildly conflicting testimony over who was the aggressor on the rainy night the 17-year-old was shot while walking through the gated townhouse community where he was staying.

Defense attorneys said the case was classic self-defense, claiming Martin knocked Zimmerman down and was slamming the older man's head against the concrete sidewalk when Zimmerman fired his gun.

"We're ecstatic with the results," defense attorney Mark O'Mara after the verdict. "George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except protecting himself in self-defense."

Another member of his defense team, Don West, said he was pleased the jury "kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty."

Prosecutors called Zimmerman a liar and portrayed him was a "wannabe cop" vigilante who had grown frustrated by break-ins in his neighborhood committed primarily by young black men. Zimmerman assumed Martin was up to no good and took the law into his own hands, prosecutors said.

State Attorney Angela Corey said after the verdict that she believed second-degree murder was the appropriate charge because Zimmerman's mindset "fit the bill of second-degree murder."

"We charged what we believed we could prove," Corey said.

As the verdict drew near, police and city leaders in the Orlando suburb of Sanford and other parts of Florida said they were taking precautions against the possibility of mass protests or unrest in the event of an acquittal.

"There is no party in this case who wants to see any violence," Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger said immediately after jurors began deliberating. "We have an expectation upon this announcement that our community will continue to act peacefully."

O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney, said his client is aware he has to be cautious and protective of his safety.

"There still is a fringe element that wants revenge," O'Mara said. "They won't listen to a verdict of not guilty."

The verdict came a year and a half after civil rights protesters angrily demanded Zimmerman be prosecuted. That anger appeared to return Saturday night outside the courthouse, at least for some who had been following the case.

Rosie Barron, 50, and Andrew Perkins, 55, both black residents of Sanford, stood in the parking lot of the courthouse and wept.

"I at least thought he was going to get something, something," Barron said.

Added her brother: "How the hell did they find him not guilty?"

Perkins was so upset he was shaking. "He killed somebody and got away with murder," Perkins shouted, looking in the direction of the courthouse. "He ain't getting no probation or nothing."

Several Zimmerman supporters also were outside the courthouse, including a brother and sister quietly rejoicing that Zimmerman was acquitted. Both thought the jury made the right decision in finding Zimmerman not guilty — they felt that Zimmerman killed Martin in self-defense.

Cindy Lenzen, 50, of Casslebury, and her brother, 52-year-old Chris Bay, stood watching the protesters chant slogans such as, "the whole system's guilty."

Lenzen and Bay — who are white — called the entire case "a tragedy," especially for Zimmerman.

"It's a tragedy that he's going to suffer for the rest of his life," Bay said. "No one wins either way. This is going to be a recurring nightmare in his mind every night."

Meanwhile, authorities in Martin's hometown of Miami said the streets were quiet, with no indication of problems. The neighborhood where Martin's father lives in Miami Gardens was equally quiet.

Zimmerman wasn't arrested for 44 days after the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting as police in Sanford insisted that Florida's Stand Your Ground law on self-defense prohibited them from bringing charges. Florida gives people wide latitude to use deadly force if they fear death or bodily harm.

Martin's parents, along with civil rights leaders such as the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, argued that Zimmerman — whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic — had racially profiled their son. And they accused investigators of dragging their feet because Martin was a black teenager.

Before a special prosecutor assigned to the case ordered Zimmerman's arrest, thousands of protesters gathered in Sanford, Miami, New York and elsewhere, many wearing hoodies like the one Martin had on the night he died. They also carried Skittles and a can of iced tea, items Martin had in his pocket. President Barack Obama weighed in, saying that if he had a son, "he'd look like Trayvon."

Despite the racially charged nature of the case, race was barely mentioned at the trial. Even after the verdict, prosecutors said the case was not about race.

"This case has never been about race or the right to bear arms," Corey said. "We believe this case all along was about boundaries, and George Zimmerman exceeded those boundaries."

One of the few mentions of race came from witness Rachel Jeantel, the Miami teen who was talking to Martin by phone moments before he was shot. She testified that he described being followed by a "creepy-ass cracker" as he walked through the neighborhood.

Jeantel gave some of the trial's most riveting testimony. She said she overheard Martin demand, "What are you following me for?" and then yell, "Get off! Get off!" before his cellphone went dead.

The jurors had to sort out clashing testimony from 56 witnesses in all, including police, neighbors, friends and family members.

For example, witnesses who got fleeting glimpses of the fight in the darkness gave differing accounts of who was on top. And Martin's parents and Zimmerman's parents both claimed that the person heard screaming for help in the background of a neighbor's 911 call was their son. Numerous other relatives and friends weighed in, too, as the recording was played over and over in court. Zimmerman had cuts and scrapes on his face and the back of his head, but prosecutors suggested the injuries were not serious.

To secure a second-degree murder conviction, prosecutors had to convince the jury that Zimmerman acted with a "depraved" state of mind — that is, with ill will, hatred or spite. Prosecutors said he demonstrated that when he muttered, "F------ punks. These a-------. They always get away" during a call to police as he watched Martin walk through his neighborhood.

To win a manslaughter conviction, prosecutors had to convince the jury only that Zimmerman killed without lawful justification.

 

Comments

deertracker

I never said that nonsense either. I REPEAT. WHO SAID IT DID?

whazup

Never said you made the statement. I said I was responding to your post about hanging out with racists. You mentioned the Rodney King situation and then I did. Relax!

J Cooper

Who made it about race, or yea, the one person who stated "creepy-a%* cracker" Didn't see threats of violence when OJ was acquitted.

The Big Dog's back

Fox news made it racial.

JudgeMeNot

Zimmer is free to go.

VTX Rider

Yes. He is.

rezzy

Bottom line is this, a jury of six women (one black and one Hispanic) cleared Zimmerman of any wrong doing. If you don't like it, then you better look in the mirror and decide who the real racist is in this case. Get over it

whazup

True

The Big Dog's back

All of the six members are women. Five are white, one is Hispanic. The four alternates include two women and two men, all of whom are white, but for one male Hispanic.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2...

whazup

So, and the prosecution helped select the jury.

rezzy

Seems like I uncovered who the true racist is amongst us. Do you have anything you want to confess puppy?

The Big Dog's back

Apparently you can't read either. 6 women, 5 white, 1 hispanic. NO BLACKS. Did you hear that? NO BLACKS!

whazup

So is the prosecutor's office racist? After all, they were part of the jury selection. Doesn't make sense that the prosecutor would want to lose.

rezzy

So what you're saying is that the black jurors would have twisted the factual law to meet the black needs? I don't get it! Hmmmmm....what's the real truth here?

The Big Dog's back

I will go real slow. You said a jury of 6 women, 1 Black 1 Hispanic. I pointed out to you there were no Blacks on the jury.

UgtaBkdnMe

So what.

JudgeMeNot

Zimmer is free to go.

VTX Rider

Yes. He is.

KnuckleDragger

Since he is guaranteed a jury of his peers, then it makes sense that there were no blacks. The jury had white and hispanic members.

phroggy

If it were a white young man walking in the middle of Harlem, would we be having the same conversation? I'm not racist. To me, everyone is equally worthless.

deertracker

This is not about a black kid walking through Beverly Hills.

whazup

???????????????? WTH did that come from?

The Big Dog's back

Obviously it's becoming more and more apparent you can't read. Get one of your family members to read the previous post to you.

whazup

I can read, it said a white man walking through Harlem.

tk

If following someone isn't a crime, why do parents call the police and report someone was following their kid? Whether you choose to believe it or not Trayvon was a kid. He had barely turned 17.

whazup

And the police cannot do anything to a person following a kid if that is all the person is doing. My parents also taught me to run away and go to a place of safety. Wasn't Martin close to his home? The information states he was within 70 yards of his home when he punched Zimmerman. Personally, I don't think I would have been able to determine the age of this young man. He was the size of a man, he had his hood up(it was raining) so his facial features were somewhat concealed, and he turned to the follower and started a physical altercation.

The Big Dog's back

Bullspit. If the police see the person, at the very least they question them. Start dealing in reality instead of strawman scenarios.

whazup

Of course they would question them but that is about all they can do. I didn't create any scenario. The reality is that a 5'11" male doesn't look like a kid in the dark. DUH Dumb Dog!

rezzy

Why does everyone fault a watchman for following someone? For the hundredth time, following someone is not against the law. Punching someone in the face and hitting his head against the concrete is against the law. The message? If you have someone following you, you can turn around and punch him in the face and crack his skull. Oh wait, that law only applies to certain groups.

whazup

Agree

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